Commencing De-Conversion Stories on The Wondering Eagle: The Guidelines

The Wondering Eagle is going to let atheists and skeptics explain how they de-converted from Christianity. As we embark on this occasional series I want to lay down the guidelines for people who read and engage so we can have a pleasant discussion.

 

“It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

Mark Twain

“Gullibility and credulity are considered undesireable qualities in every department of human life — except religion … Why are we praised by godly men for surrendering our ‘godly gift’ of reason when we cross their mental thresholds?”

Christopher Hitchens

RR201619

Starting today The Wondering Eagle is going to start sharing de-conversion stories from Christianity. I like to write about atheism and faith crisis, and this is a topic that is very important. I believe that many atheists and skeptics are sitting on stories that should be told and shared with the world. There are some good websites like Ex-Christian.net but if possible I would like to break the mold and go in some dark places and talk about difficult things that you won’t find in many Christian blogs. Why? Because I resonate with many parts of the atheist and secular crowd due to a faith crisis that I had that consumed half my thirties.

 

My Impression of Many Atheists and Skeptics

These are some thoughts I have about the atheist and skeptic communities that are part of the reason why I want to write about such topics.

  1. I believe that many atheists and skeptics have faced discrimination and have been hurt by the modern Christian church. Some of the stories I hear from time to time anger me. Its an issue that deserves frank discussion and acknowledgment.
  2. I believe that many atheists and skeptics are misunderstood and deserve to be listened to. Many Christians can be quite arrogant and dismissive when instead I wish they would actually listen.
  3. I have found atheists and skeptics to be committed to truth and value science and reason. Those are all good traits and valuable. Their honesty is to be commended and recognized. In some ways its refreshing to have that open commitment to honesty.
  4. Many atheists and skeptics like to share and talk. They have points and stories they want to share and tell. The world needs to hear these stories. There is so much we can learn from them in this process.
  5. Many atheists and skeptics are passionate, caring, and kind. There are many strands to the atheist and secular movements and this is something that is not given enough thought or devotion. The vocal evangelical atheist doe snot represent the entire movement, just parts of it.

Building a Bridge and Learning

I would very much like to build a bridge with the secular community and create an environment where people can learn and listen. Many evangelicals talk down or talk at, but do not listen to others. I would like to help change that in creating an environment where people can share, and others can listen. I think this is especially important as the nones grow and more people are  not affiliated with anything. But I am hoping that others from a reader to a pastor can learn and listen from what atheists are saying.

 

Guidelines for Atheists and Skeptics in Such Posts

There are really none. I want to do these posts for those in the skeptic and atheist community. I want you to be able to express yourself, and speak your mind freely. You will not have to worry about censorship or anything like that at all. I want you to feel comfortable. I would like to do these kinds of posts once a month.

 

Guidelines for Christians in Such Posts

These are the guidelines for many Christians. I want these to be clear, concise and followed. I want to create a unique environment where people can speak their mind and explain why they left Christianity, or why they don’t believe in it. I would like to create an environment online where people can discuss and talk. These are the guidelines for evangelical Christians.

  1. You will be respectful of each and every atheist who tells their story.
  2. There will be no rude comments or put downs. If that happens they will be removed and I will put you into slow moderation. That means I will approve the comments after a few hours, and if you still are difficult then you will be given the boot for a while.
  3. You can engage and ask questions and dialog.
  4. There will be no standard evangelical put downs of “Well…you where never a Christian to begin with.” Skip it…I addressed thinking like that in posts like this.
  5. You will not try and convert them. I am not trying to convert them I am trying to give them a platform to freely speak where they will not feel pressure.
  6. You will empathize with their pain, (if there is any…) that came about due to difficult family situations.

I am making this up as I go so this will change in the course of time. This is a start, and I hope this gives us some basic guidelines. As always please know that I love you guys!

29 thoughts on “Commencing De-Conversion Stories on The Wondering Eagle: The Guidelines

    • I was unaware of the meaning of the Latin phrase Ubi Dubium so I looked it up. “Where this is doubt, there is freedom” fits well with the subject at hand. I would add that being honest with yourself and others about your doubt is a good prerequisite for understanding as well as freedom.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Acts 26:15-29
    15 … ‘I am Jesus. I am the one you are persecuting.

    16 Stand up! I have chosen you to be my servant. You will tell people about me—what you have seen today and what I will show you. This is why I have come to you.

    17 I will keep you safe from your own people and from the non-Jewish people, the ones I am sending you to. 18 You will make them able to understand the truth. They will turn away from darkness to the light. They will turn away from the power of Satan, and they will turn to God. Then their sins can be forgiven, and they can be given a place among God’s people—those who have been made holy by believing in me.’”

    Paul Tells About His Work

    19 Paul continued speaking: “King Agrippa, after I had this vision from heaven, I obeyed it. 20 I began telling people to change their hearts and lives and turn back to God. And I told them to do what would show that they had really changed. I went first to people in Damascus. Then I went to Jerusalem and to every part of Judea and told the people there. I also went to the non-Jewish people.

    21 “This is why the Jews grabbed me and were trying to kill me at the Temple.

    22 But God helped me, and he is still helping me today. With God’s help I am standing here today and telling all people what I have seen. But I am saying nothing new. I am saying only what Moses and the prophets said would happen.

    23 They said that the Messiah would die and be the first to rise from death. They said that he would bring the light of God’s saving truth[a] to the Jewish people and to the non-Jewish people.”
    Paul Tries to Persuade Agrippa

    24 While Paul was still defending himself, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Too much study has made you crazy.”

    25 Paul said, “Most Honorable Festus, I am not crazy. What I am saying is true. It all makes perfect sense. 26 King Agrippa knows about all this, and I can speak freely to him. I know that he has heard about these things, because they happened where everyone could see them. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe what the prophets wrote? I know you believe!”

    28 King Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think you can persuade me to become a ‘Christ-follower’ so easily?”

    29 Paul said, “It is not important if it is easy or if it is hard. I pray to God that not only you but that everyone listening to me today could be saved and be just like me…

    I think it is a terrible idea that you are doing this. What is your main objective in regards to your own spirituality? Are you planning to be an atheist? What is it that you do not believe? Do you believe that there is a God?

    Is this really an “all about YOU”, and not really the atheists? You state that you have a faith crisis.

    How much of the Bible do you REALLY KNOW?

    Hebrews 11:1
    Faith is the substance of things HOPED FOR, the evidence of things unseen.

    What does the Bible state is the OBJECTIVE to faith? What is HOPED for? What is the PROMISE? What is HOPE?
    What is meant when we say that “they have no HOPE.”?

    I just cannot relate that a Christian can have doubts about Christianity. It’s just way too bizarre for me.

    Either you believe, or you don’t believe. What do you believe? If you want to be an atheist, then get off the fence and become one. Make a decision.

    Where there atheists in the days of Jesus or before? Or, did they just worship other gods? When was atheism started? By whom? Who was the first person responsible for the beginning of atheism?

    Were there agnostics in the days of Jesus or before? Or were there deists?

    My roommate is an atheist. I know why he is an atheist. He’s an atheist because he was raised Catholic. I told him, “Oh, no wonder!”. Catholicism is more about a pope and complete obedience to RITUALS than a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus.

    By the way, he is the best roommate that I have ever had. But for a Christian to ENDORSE atheism, that is not a godly thing to do. I HOPE YOU KNOW THIS.

    I have absolutely NO IDEA where you come up with the idea that atheists are being discriminated against. In all historical context, Christians of today are being marginalized, when indeed this country was founded upon Christian principals, which you completely deny, taking the side of the atheist argument.

    So, I implore you, if you want to be an atheist, GET OFF THE FENCE AND BE ONE. Or, promote Jesus.

    Get off the fence. Make a decision. Are you on the side of Jesus, or atheists?

    Ed Chapman

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    • Quite the scathing indictment there Ed. If you knew Eagle’s story and where he’s really coming from, you’d dial it back a bit and use some that good old fashioned “Christian Charity” instead of Templar storming the walls of Jerusalem style aggression.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Muff Potter,

        2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIRV)
        I destroy every claim and every reason that keeps people from knowing God. I keep every thought under control in order to make it obey Christ.

        Acts 9:29
        And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.

        and again:

        Acts 26:29
        Paul said, “It is not important if it is easy or if it is hard. I pray to God that not only you but that everyone listening to me today could be saved and be just like me…

        Here is my point, Muff Potter…People need to read and study the bible…with a Strong’s Concordance, College Ruled Paper, Several Pens, a variety of colors of hi-lite markers, several pots of coffee, and numerous English bible version translations.

        HOW is faith built? Is it built by going to church? Or…is it built by KNOWING what the scriptures really state?

        Acts 17:11-12(KJV)
        11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and…

        searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

        12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

        In denominations, you must conform to what someone else already decided.

        We have a mind of our own. I do not conform to the mind of someone else. And, I do not expect anyone else to either.

        What I expect is individual knowledge of the Bible, not what a preacher states.

        What is our responsibility in regards to what preachers preach?

        Search the scriptures to see if what they preach is true, or false.

        The preacher reports, we decide. How can you decide without researching the Bible?

        If one wants to be an atheist, we cannot stop them, but we can DEFEND THE FAITH, and not be so passive about it.

        In regards to the atheist that likes to reason:

        1 Corinthians 1:20
        Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

        Why reason why when there is no reason why?

        Ed Chapman

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    • Ed, did you read the posted rules 1-6 above? Please read them again, because your comment violated most of them. Preaching, bible quotes, put-downs of how you already know why we don’t believe. It’s all the stuff that I’d like to get past, the stuff that gets in the way of actual communication.

      Please put down the bible quotes and just listen to our stories. If you can’t understand how a christian can have doubts, then listen to us because we’ve lived it. You have a chance to understand a group of people that you don’t understand right now. Wondering Eagle gets it, that’s why he’s running the series.

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      • Ubi Dubium,

        I am a Christian, and when an atheist tells me to put down the bible quotes, it’s like the devil telling me to follow him, and get away from that dangerous Jesus, because Jesus is such a bad influence on people, because praying in school is dangerous to others.

        Just so you know.

        Ed Chapman

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      • Ed, if preaching and bible quotes were going to bring us back to believing, it would have worked by now. We aren’t un-churched or un-educated, we read the bible, listened to the endless sermons, we studied the apologetics. Many of us were just as immersed in the religion as you are. If it didn’t work then, doing more of it and harder isn’t going to work better now.

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      • First off, I am not into RELIGION. I am a Christian, not a religionist. Second, if you are as educated in Christianity as you seem to claim, what did you learn about Jesus? Moses? Judah? David? Solomon? Jonah? Didn’t all of them point to Jesus, JUST BASED on their story? I am not discussing any of them as telling you about Jesus. I am discussing the spiritual side of it, such as Moses being a redeemer, Solomon building God’s House, Jonah being 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a whale. Those tell of Jesus. And, there is so much more. The Jews did not see Jesus, because the Pharisees were just as educated as you…which means that education of carnal stories will not get you to understand anything. Education needs to be on the spiritual story, not the carnal story.

        My roommate is an atheist. We strongly have a lot of fun debating atheist vs. Christianity. BUT…he is always coming at it from a Catholic point of view, because he was Catholic. I always tell him that if he is going to slam the Catholics, I will shut up and listen. But, if he is going to slam Christianity, I will at all times defend Christianity…from the book, not a Pope or a Bishop, or a preacher.

        Look at my about page, including the comments. You will learn about why I look to the BOOK for answers.

        I do, however, respect your opposition to Christianity…I just don’t get why anyone would reject it, due to a bad experience in a church. The book tells the story, and yes, Christians too much rely on preachers as the final authority, from which spiritual abuse happens.

        Well, if Christians were indeed more educated about the Bible, there would be no abuse issues, or doubts about your faith, etc.

        Christianity is the only religion that God saves you, rather than you saving yourself by obeying the law.

        Abraham did not have any of the law of Moses. Why? Guess what? Christians do not have any of the law of Moses. Why?

        Oh, but some ignorant Christians want you to obey a law that even Abraham did not have. Why?

        Just my thoughts on why I can’t grasp Christians endorsing atheism. It’s two opposing belief systems.

        You cannot follow two masters. You will either love the one, and hate the other. You cannot have both.

        The Bible states that. It makes no sense for Wondering Eagle to proclaim atheism to the Christian community, except to show ways to bring them to Jesus with compassion.

        We, as Christians are not to abandon our atheist friends, but to respect them, and endorse Jesus, in spite of losing a friendship.

        Ed Chapman

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      • If you are going to respect your atheist friends, then you need to listen to them more and quote the bible at them less. Spend less time quoting Jesus (or Paul) and spend more time acting like Jesus.

        If you want to reach us and people like us, you need to know why we left. Not that you are likely to bring us back, you probably won’t. But there are people in the pews right now going through the same thought processes that we did. If you use the same tactics on them that were used on us, you’ll get the same result: they will leave too.

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      • Ed, I gave clear rules. Please follow them. I will give you one chance before moderating you. I just landed in Phoenix waiting to deplane. I want to have you involved but it needs to be respectful. Please Ed….

        Liked by 1 person

      • First off, I am not into RELIGION. I am a Christian, not a religionist.

        No, no, no, Ed.
        The proper phrasing (by way of Calvary Chapel Chrisitanese) is “YOU have a (sneer) RELIGION; I have a (smug smile) RELATIONSHIP!”
        Coup Counted.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Really interesting that you bring this up since it is exactly the thing I have been toying with in my mind….I could write a lot,but just for starters: Wise, dedicated, well meaning men have spent incredible amounts of time studying this question, and after years of consideration, and looking at the same ‘evidence’, have come to the exact opposite conclusions….This does nothing to make me feel more encouraged to pursue the whole concept; I even wonder if it is really just a waste of time and that living as a nihilist might be the really sensible thing to do…Thoughts?

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      • I guess in this context I am thinking the efforts of mankind to find inherent meaning will fail because there is so much we do not and seemingly can not know, as well as the zillions of contradictions floating around; things such as predestination, original sin, salvation by faith alone, eternal damnation by doing or saying (insert favorite sin here)- and that is not even touching on the bizarre things such as the Druids, Muslim and Eastern Religions teach…The Church of Rome and Eastern Orthodox faiths have fought over little (and probably meaningless) things for centuries, and I have read that there have been over 30,000 branches of Protestantism since Martin Luther nailed the thesis to the church door. The history of Christian mistreatment of those practicing other forms of worship in various European, Nordic and South American regions is absolutely horrifying, and many of the victims were also Christians using the same source materials and somehow believing that their way was the right way and ‘God was on their side’. much as today’s radical Muslim terrorists believe… So which of these would we be dedicating ourselves to even IF we wanted to be let’s say a follower of Christ?….I guess I am really thinking of Nihilism as a less ‘structured’ form of Existentialism where one does not spend so much of his or her life pondering the unknown that, in reality, may well be unknowable- Live for Life because we can not control most of it anyway. Most people know what good and bad is and don’t necessarily need a rule book with a set of instructions in how to live a positive life. in fact the overwhelming majority of the blood shed during man’s time on earth has been over religious ‘principles’…This is no doubt a too simple explanation of the subject, but I hope some of it makes sense…

        Liked by 1 person

      • That made a lot of sense. I don’t think there’s any point in looking for any inherent meaning in life either. The meaning of your life is not something to be found, or to have told to you. The meaning is something you get to create for yourself, its what you decide to make it.

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  3. One of the things that has always made me leary of the Bible, is that it seems a believer can find or interpret just about ANYTHING by finding a verse to back it up, even if there are also others that say the opposite thing or get the opposite interpretation…. Just watch a Roman Catholic apologist or the Sunday morning ‘Prosperity Preachers’- they have a verse for everything, including gettinghealthy and rich by sending money to THEM! :-s

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce,

      I see no problem in differing opinions about what a verse or two or three, etc. states. First, YOU must make a decision on what it states, and means. THEN AND ONLY THEN can you compare with others, and again, study it out in order to make up your own mind after a second or third or fourth outside comparison opinions. Iron sharpens Iron (the bible states that).

      The Apostle Paul time and time again kept referring to the, what most people call “Old Testament” in order to show that what was told was going to happen, actually happened.

      And, many “unbelievers” have a tendency not to see the “spiritual” story, or as some say, “read between the lines”. But they are fantastic at the carnal story line.

      Those are the people who like to focus on the food restrictions, and a whole slew of JEWISH stuff that is found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy of the Jews, thinking that is what Christians endorse, i.e. not eating shell fish, etc. I love and eat crab and lobster. I am a Christian.

      Ed Chapman

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      • “I see no problem in differing opinions about what a verse or two or three, etc. states.”
        I think the problem is there are thousands of them, and the many different ways of looking at them have and continue to determine how not only believers live their lives, but in so many cases, how believers expect OTHERS to live their lives as well…

        Liked by 2 people

    • Yes people often twist the words of God. Just as how Christians can look at the Greatest Commandant and decide to burn a “heretic” on the stake. That’s not loving their neighbours.

      From this though we can clearly see a separation between “God” and “Men”. This mean how some so-called “Christians” behave is not how God wanted them to behave. And while the church should have been a representative of Jesus, these so-called “Christians” acts nothing like the loving ministry that Jesus did when he was on earth. In fact they twisted the bible and say that Jesus is judge and he wants judgement right now. Hence heretics were burnt, instead of being patiently and gently bought to faith in Christ.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Just my thoughts on why I can’t grasp Christians endorsing atheism. It’s two opposing belief systems.

    Tolerance of, and the endorsement of something are not the same thing.
    And believe it or not there is stuff that both Christian and Atheist alike can agree and unite upon regardless of their opposing belief or non-belief systems:
    We laugh the same laughs, bleed the same blood, and cry the same tears.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Should be interesting, Eagle! Good for you for being willing to make this space available! Yeah, I get that as believers, we’re supposed to evangelize; but the same Bible that tells us to do that, also tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. To me, that means working to avoid trolling or “Jesus jukes”.

    Will do my best to respect the rules. I agree with those who recognize that atheists and Christians still share in the human experience together. And, well, like you, Eagle, I’ve come to realize that the atheist / secularist, etc. community sometimes has some very valid points and has experienced discrimination.

    I myself still have questions; but I’m still a believer at this point — just one wrestling quite a bit.

    Glad you brought up ExChristian.net. Compelling stories on there. I read through some of the comments there sometimes, and I can certainly relate to some of it.

    I’m definitely glad that our atheist / secular brethren in the human race believe in reason and science. I mean, good grief, even the Proverbs place a lot of value on wisdom and common sense — not to mention loving one’s neighbor as oneself!

    A little while ago, my family attended a service at a Missouri Synod Lutheran congregation in Northern VA. I felt sorry for the pastor, because he openly admitted that he didn’t understand atheists, and that atheists made him uncomfortable. That’s too bad. I mean, we’re all just people. We probably actually have quite a bit in common, other that religious beliefs. In college, one of my best friends was an atheist, I think. She was such a sweet gal. I wish I hadn’t lost touch with her. Grr. The stupid things religion does sometimes — like sometimes keep church folks too busy to hang out with real friends. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

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